Supply chain pressures | Exceeding customers’ expectations

As businesses strive to serve the evolving demands of dynamic global markets, supply chains are under constant pressure. These pressures mean you need to not only meet, but exceed customers’ expectations, build resilient solutions cost-effectively alongside striving towards sustainability goals. Achieving this balance is not an easy feat!

In this series of blogs, Adam Jones, Director of Business Development & Sector Strategies, is exploring how supply chain pressures are affecting businesses across all sectors. Everyone from automotive, to consumer goods, retail, eCommerce, and tech are feeling the pinch. In this second blog in his series, Adam is looking at how you can exceed customers’ expectations, even with their ever-changing needs.

Missed blog one in the series? Check it out here: Building resilient solutions cost-effectively

Pressures on the supply chain

Across sectors, the end customers are demanding more for their money. Whether it’s speed, choice, convenience, cost or sustainability, if a customer isn’t satisfied, they’ll simply place an order elsewhere. And they’ll do it at the click of a button. This has primarily been driven by the rise of eCommerce and the Amazon effect. For Retailers, Brands and OEMs with a loyal following based on their ‘bricks and mortar’ offering, the loss of reliable in-store trade has been severe.

New figures from the retail insights network reveal that the UK has experienced the closure of 6,000 storefronts over the past five years. (Dabo, 2023). These figures are supported by a Forbes article which predicts that by 2040, nearly 95% of all purchases will be conducted online or through digital channels. (Bugembe, 2023).

But, the costs required to build eCommerce capabilities, a solid online presence, and a customer experience that will unlock sales growth are not insignificant. However, perhaps not as scary as the alternative of not investing.

Smart warehouse management system with innovative internet of things technology to identify package picking and delivery . Future concept of supply chain and logistic network business .

Taking the automotive industry, for example, where you’re affected by demanding customers at the point of purchase and in the aftermarket arena. Purchasing and receiving a vehicle must be simple, whilst expectations for servicing and repair are for same day solutions. Customers are looking for OEMs who provide value for money and quality aftermarket services to keep their vehicles on the road.

So how can you build a solution to not just meet, but exceed customers’ expectations?

How 3PLs can support

3PLs can play a pivotal role in supporting businesses in your requirements to exceed customers’ expectations. Working across a range of sectors and customers, 3PLs have invested, and have experience in delivering technology, skills, and ways of working that result in efficient and successful change. A credible 3PL has a suite of ‘standard’ solutions that can be flexed and modified to meet the unique needs of your business.

In the consumer and e-commerce sectors, 3PLs can provide a strong partner network of integrated final mile carriers and PUDO locations.

And, as delivery reasons account for over 40% of purchase abandonment online (Metapack, 2023), it is critical to offer choice, convenience and reliability for end customers. To further improve customer loyalty, the customer experience can also be enhanced by personalised touches. You can enhance areas like product customisation or personalised advertising on tracking or returns portals.

In the automotive sector, demand forecasting, inventory, optimisation, part visibility and through-the-night delivery solutions are essential. Getting this right will embed resilience in the operation, but also allow businesses to communicate clearly with their customers. When a same-day fix isn’t possible, the next best course of action is to provide an accurate and specific date by which their vehicle will arrive or be repaired.


Key Risks & Mitigation

Outsourcing to a 3PL who doesn’t understand the real needs of their customer and the end customer could end in disaster. Inflexible standard solutions are often to blame as they don’t take into account the nuances of how your business and customers operate. Avoid this pitfall by finding a 3PL who listens, offers positive challenges, and ensures the solutions proposed are tailored to delight the end customer.


Read next:

In his final blog in the series, Adam looks at the crucial point of how you can meet your emissions targets in a financially stable way.